“They did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness; yea, and even according to their faith it was done unto them; and I did remember the words which they said unto me that their mothers had taught them” (Alma 57:21).
There are few sights in this world that can compare to a righteous mother humbly teaching her children in the ways of the Lord. There are few better testimonies to the love a child has for his mother than to continue in those ways even as he grows older.
My absolute favorite story involving mothers occurs in the Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. The remarkable women are not mentioned by name, but rather through the truths spoken and actions displayed by their sons.
Long ago a man named Helaman lived on the American continent. He was a good, noble, and righteous man who stood for much of what our forefathers fought to maintain: the desire to live free, to worship as they felt right, and to protect their families and homes. During Helaman’s time there were many wars between his people, the Nephites, and those who violently opposed the Lord’s Church, the Lamanites.
Helaman led a group of 2,000 young men, who were in their teens, to battle against the Lamanites. Why did he lead such young people into war? The parents of these young men had made a covenant with the Lord never to pick up their weapons of war again, even if it meant they would die. When their lives were placed in danger, many of them thought to break the covenant, especially as so many of their fellow Nephites – who fought to protect them – were being killed (Alma 53:11).
That’s when these 2,000 young men, or Stripling Warriors as we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly called the Mormon Church) call them, stepped up and said they would fight in place of their fathers and brothers who had previously entered the covenant.
They fought many times, these young men, for what they believed what was right. Helaman became like a father to them, and they referred to him as such. He wrote to a fellow captain about these boys of his, in which the reason behind their incredible faith is given.
“And now I say unto you, my beloved brother Moroni, that never had I seen so great courage, nay, not amongst all the Nephites. For as I had ever called them my sons (for they were all of them very young) even so they said unto me: Father, behold our God is with us, and he will not suffer that we should fall; then let us go forth; we would not slay our brethren if they would let us alone; therefore let us go, lest they should overpower the army of Antipus.
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it” (Alma 56:45-48, emphasis added).
I do not doubt these mothers feared as they watched their sons go to war, not knowing what might happen to them, yet having such great faith that whatever the outcome it would be as the Lord desired. How great must have been their joy to see every single one of their young men return home.
For those who have a mother such as this, one who has taught you over the years in the ways of the Lord, rejoice. Live your lives as a testament to the good woman she is. If you do not have such a mother, I still say rejoice. You cannot know what has happened in her own growing up years to have shaped the person she is now.
Instead of mourning for what might have been, take a moment to think of even one good thing she has done in your behalf. Even if there is only one little memory, take hold and never let it go. I then invite you to think of all the other mothers in your life: grandmothers, aunts, teachers, church leaders, and any other woman who has been a good influence.
I can only hope, as so many other mothers out there will echo, that my children will remember my own faith as I strive to teach them what is right. I pray they will be faithful and strong as I send them out to battle the evils in the world today. One of the greatest things I can ever hope to hear my children say of me is that they knew of my faith, and that I never doubted.